Imperial glass is glassware first produced in Ohio, US in 1901.
Imperial Glass was first produced in 1901 when Mr Vance and Mr Muhleman formed the New Crystal Glass Company in Ohio. By the end of the year had renamed it the Imperial Glass Company. From 1904 until 1909 Imperial mass produced items for the consumer, ranging from tumblers and dinner services to lampshades and storage jars. A popular design featured imitation cut-glass, which was known as near-cut. Affordable, sturdy and attractive, Imperial's glassware proved very popular. In 1905 the company signed a wholesale deal with Woolworth's and by 1907 were producing glassware at full capacity.History of Antique Imperial glass
In 1909 Imperial began producing Carnival Glass, an inexpensive product treated to have an attractive irridescent sheen, in a variety of colours. Sometimes known as Cinderalla Glassware because it enabled housewives on a lower income to decorate their home with attractive articles, Carnival proved to be Imperial's most popular line, until it was discontinued in the 1920s. Later, two major new lines were introduced: Nucut (a form of imitation cut glass) in 1911 and Nuart (which mimicked the far more expensive Tiffany ware) in 1912.
In 1923, Imperial introduced it's Free Hand range, a line of art glass designed by experts in the Netherlands, but this and other attempts to break into the art glass market were not popular. In the 1950s, the company introduced it's Candlewick and Cape Cod lines, and in the 1960s, in an effort to recapture the market, re-introduced Carnival Ware, but in 1973, and again in 1982, Imperial was sold, and finally went out of business in 1984.
Guide for collectors
Imperial is a well-loved national institution. Single pieces or sets are readily available at auction, rummage-sales, and through the internet (Ebay in particular). The simplest design - Candlewick - has also proven to be the most durable and popular. However, availability does not necessarily mean cheapness. The website imperialglass.org was formed on the centenary of the company. It provides contacts and general information, but cannot advise on appraisals. There are also several books on the subject of specific lines, which should be of interest to the collector: Candlewick the Jewel of Imperial by Mary Wetzel-Tomalka - books 1 and 2, and an additional price guide.
M. and B. Garrisson have produced the following books all lavishly illustrated: Imperial Cape Cod; Candlewick: The Crystal Line, Candlewick: Colored and Decorated; Milk Glass; Imperial Glass Corp.; Imperial’s Boudior, Etcetera. Finally, Imperial Glass: Lace Edge, by Laura J. Marsh. (Order direct from Ms Marsh at 28 W 644 Mack Road, West Chicago, IL 60185-4419.)
Notable sales of Antique Imperial glass
Prices of different lines vary widely, with Candlewick and Carnival generally most expensive, and Milk Glass the least expensive. It is important that the items are in usable condition. The highest price paid at auction for Imperial Glass was $2010 for a lot including punchbowl and ten glasses, in Carnival ware, Grape design, and a set of 10 Carnival ware bowls, in Marigold, which was sold by Eldred's Auction Gallery in April 2002. In contrast, a Milk Glass vase with Greek motif sold for only $2 at auction by Cripple Creek auctioneers, in May 2006.